Six ways to spot a fake Amarone bottle

Italy is known throughout the world as the country with a thousand resources and a thousand treasures. Art, culture, fashion, agribusiness…and wine. Wine in particular, considering that it is one of the country’s biggest exports, worth a total of 5.6 billion Euros in 2016 alone.

 
Unfortunately, the more a product is sought-after and represents an excellence, the more swindlers try to copy it. This is the case with Amarone della Valpolicella, an extremely prestigious wine with an infinity of estimators and which has become a true status symbol in every corner of the world. 
It is estimated that there is one fake bottle for every bottle of original Italian wine on the market. 

We are therefore looking at a 1:1 ratio, and for the agribusiness world this means a loss of 60 billion Euros a year, without considering the energy invested in checks and anti-counterfeiting strategies applied to combat the phenomenon.

Can the risk of purchasing a fake bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella (or other DOC and DOCG wines) be limited? 

Yes, certainly. These are the aspects to consider (and the questions to ask yourself) when purchasing a bottle of Italian wine.

1) The price. 
We all try to make the best purchase, but always consider how much it costs to produce a quality product. In the specific case of Amarone della Valpolicella, we are talking about a wine whose grapes are dried for a few months, which then go through two fermentation phases and two cask conditioning phases, and which are then left to rest for a few years
An Amarone cannot be bottled unless three years have passed from when the grapes were harvested. It is evident that a wine which goes through such a long and delicate process cannot be cheap. Quality has a price.

2) Italian is different from Italian-Sounding.
Always pay attention to what you are buying, in other words, buy informed. Parmigiano is different from Parmegian. So, if you are looking for a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella, don’t fall for something that sounds the same but is not what you are really looking for.

3) Use the Internet.
Today everyone can access the Internet. If you have doubts about a wine label, look for it on the web. By now almost all quality wineries have an Internet site and are present on the social networks. A quick search can reassure you.

4) Be careful about the DOC and DOCG labels.
We have written an article about them. All high quality wines in Italy carry the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata - Controlled Designation of Origin) or DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita - Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) label. Amarone della Valpolicella, in particular, has held the exclusive DOCG label since 2010. So, watch out for the labels.

5) The DOC and DOCG chain is extremely rigorous and severe. Just think that checks are made by the Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guards), and that each bottle must be marked by a special seal which determines the product origin. The state monopoly symbol, the QR code and two alphanumeric codes must be present on this seal, together with a definition of the wine.

(The numbers on the seal in the photo have been partially darkened for privacy).

6) If the wine has a strange taste, don’t drink it!
We are talking about Italian excellence, and if you have bought a high quality wine from a winery with a good reputation such as Amarone della Valpolicella, it’s very unlikely that the wine is off or has a strange flavour. If it does, however, go to your retailer, who will certainly know how to help.

Choosing wine knowledgeably and without the risk of being fooled is possible, all you have to do is be careful. Unfortunately, swindlers ruin the market, but the true producers fight against counterfeiting every day, holding the Made in Italy name and quality on high.

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